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Local charity raises funds for children’s cancer

Michael Hoefflin Foundation holds its biggest fundraiser of the year

Posted: September 24, 2013 4:34 p.m.
Updated: September 24, 2013 4:34 p.m.

Michael Hoefflin Foundation supporters enjoy the program during the 20th annual Evening Under the Stars gala Saturday.

SANTA CLARITA - As the sun set on the stage, heart-felt personal accounts of life and loss gave way to surf tunes as hundreds helped raise about $300,000 for the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer.

Both commemorating and celebrating the stories of children who have battled cancer, the Michael Hoefflin Foundation held its 20th annual Evening Under the Stars gala Saturday.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year to support families and kids who are battling cancer,” said Sue Hoefflin, founder of the foundation along with her husband, Chris Hoefflin.

The event gathered about 550 residents, cancer survivors and supporters at Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia, and about 200 volunteers turned out over the course of nine months to make the event possible.

“It involves a sit-down meal, a silent auction with hundreds of items, a live auction with about 50 items, professional entertainment and a dance floor,” Chris Hoefflin said.

This year, the event raised about $300,000, which was about a 20 percent increase from last year’s fundraising efforts, said Gillian Stone, the foundation’s executive director.

The foundation is named in honor of Michael Hoefflin, the son of Chris and Sue Hoefflin. Michael Hoefflin was 10 years old when he died in 1996 after a four-year battle with brain cancer.

“In 1994, our son was undergoing treatment for brain cancer, and we knew a number of families that were really having a hard time,” Chris Hoefflin said. “We wanted to do whatever we could to help out.”

When the Hoefflins started the Santa Clarita-based foundation, their fundraising mission was two-fold: to advance research for cures and to provide support to local families.

“After 20 years and so many people lending a hand, we have been able to help more than 500 families,” Chris Hoefflin said.

A member of one of those 500 took the stage Saturday to tell her story. A Santa Clarita native, 24-year-old Ali Sarrow was diagnosed when she was 4 years old.

“I’m a cancer survivor, and this year is my 20th anniversary since I was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor, which is a childhood kidney cancer,” said Sarrow.

Sarrow was a part of the Hoefflin Foundation, and she and her family benefited from its services.

“As a foundation, there is so much love, hope and generosity that filters through,” Sarrow said. “The foundation is just about giving anything they can to the families, whether it’s emotional or financial support — anything.

“It’s about love, generosity, hope and healing,” Sarrow said. “That’s why we’re here tonight.”




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